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Kleptomania: Its Causes, Treatment, and Medications

Kleptomania is mental illness that has the characteristic of an irresistible longing to steal stuffThis is psychological condition is not due to any flaw in the character of the person. 

Kleptomaniacs are not the same as shoplifters. Kleptomania involves the failure to resist impulses to act in a way that may be dangerous to self or other people. Kleptomaniac has a symptom of stealing something which they do as an act without any intentionThe shoplifters steal things intentionally.   

What causes Kleptomania? 

The following factors may be responsible for the disorder: 

  • Obsessive-compulsive disorders 
  • Stress either at home or work 
  • The release of dopamine from the brain rewards the person with a feeling of pleasure initiates the recurrence of the impulse to steal. 
  • Change in the levels of serotonin that regulates emotions and moods 

Signs and Symptoms of Kleptomania 

  • Feeling increased tension or arousal leading up to the theft 
  • Feeling relief while stealing or terrible guilt, shame, or fear of arrest after the theft  
  • Inability to resist powerful urges to steal items that you don’t have  

Risk Factors Of Having Kleptomania 

  • Family history: Having a first-degree relative with kleptomania or obsessive-compulsive disorder may increase the risk of kleptomania.  
  • Having another mental disorder: People with kleptomania frequently have another mental disorder such as eating disorder, bipolar disorder, or anxiety disorder. 

Safety Precautions  

Some measures that can stop the progress of psychological illnesses include: 

  • Teaching the children and teenagers about relationships and human values 
  • Creating a happy and peaceful environment for the children 
  • Instructing people with behavioral problems to preventing those situations which trigger the disease  
  • Training the people on stress management techniques 

If left untreated, kleptomania may result in severe problemsOther complications associated with this disorder may include: 

  • Suicidal thoughts 
  • Anxiety 
  • Bipolar disorder 
  • Depression 
  • Eating disorder 
  • Personality disorder 
  • Alcohol and substance disorder 
  • Other impulse-control disorders such as compulsive shopping or gambling  

Treating Kleptomania 

Kleptomania treatment is significant as this illness is not self-limiting type. If any patient is not treated on time, it may become a life-long psychological condition. Treatment includes both medical management and psychiatric therapy. 

Medical Management 

This type of treatment includes the use of medications to lessen the symptoms of the need to steal. These medications act on chemicals like opioids of the brain to stop the urge to steal. 

Psychiatric Treatment 

It includes behavioral change therapy. Some essential techniques of this therapy include: 

  • Instructions are given on the practice of relaxation techniques like deep breathing techniques when the patient’s brain triggers the urge to steal something. 
  • The patients are also shown to deviate their attentiveness when the symptom of the urge to steal begins.  

Family therapy also helps to relieve the symptoms. It involves, engaging the patient with family and peer group most of the time.  

Medications for Kleptomania 

Treatment for kleptomania usually focuses on behaviors. For some, medications may also be used as part of the treatment program.  

  • Anti-depressants like fluoxetine may be useful to relax and calm down the brain. Fluoxetine might be useful in helping curb very intense urges.  
  • Naltrexone has also shown some capacity in controlling impulse-based behavior. This medicine is now used to help alcoholics control the urge to drink.